Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2005
Regional Report

Keep Seedbeds Moist

Keep seedbeds moist and shaded from hot afternoon sun until the seedlings develop two to four true leaves. After transplanting them, mulch the soil lightly, and add more in October and November for additional frost protection. Keep the mulch an inch away from the plant stems, however, for good air circulation and less potential for disease problems.

Herbs for Wintering Indoors

Quite a few herbs make attractive edible houseplants, including both dark green and dark opal basil, chervil, chives, dill, mint, oregano, parsley (the flat-leaf type is hardier and more flavorful), rosemary, summer savory, sweet marjoram, and thyme. Sow the seeds thickly to guarantee good germination, as plants will grow slowly over the winter, and consequently less foliage will be available for recipes.

Plant Saffron Crocus

Plant autumn-blooming saffron crocus now for a November harvest. Each corm produces from one to three flowers, and about six corms should provide sufficient saffron -- just the three tiny red stamens in each bloom -- for each cooking or baking recipe.

Prune Leggy Plants

Cut back alyssum, coreopsis, marguerite and Shasta daisies, delphiniums, dianthus, felicias, gaillardias, geraniums, ivies, lantanas, lobelias, petunias, and santolinas to one-third or one-half of their present size. However, don't cut them back beyond the green foliage to the older woody growth, as this may kill the plant.

Plant Irises, Daylilies, and Lilies

Plant iris rhizomes, daylily crowns, and lily bulbs in well-drained soil amended with organic matter. Iris rhizomes prefer to sit on top of the soil, with only their roots buried. Daylily crowns like to be one inch below the soil surface. Lilies need a three-inch layer of humus on top of their roots. Irises can take all the sun they can get, daylilies will bloom nicely in full sun or partial shade, and lilies need their bases shaded but foliage in the sun. Plant lily bulbs as soon as you get them, as they don't ever go fully dormant.

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